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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

YouBike: Is Renting A Bike In Taipei Right For You?

Here is a video from We View Taiwan, explaining the Taipei YouBike system, which, if we believe the PR, has seen a miraculous rapid turn-around from embarrassing disaster, to shining star of Taipei.

In a recent article in the Taipei Times, the Taipei government unveiled plans to expand the system and award new subsidies to the contractors.

As the city government and its partner in the bicycle program, Giant Bicycles, celebrate the scheme’s one-millionth ride, Taipei’s Department of Transportation is to establish five rental stops today at Lingyun Market, Nangang Elementary School, Nangang Software Park, and the Mass Rapid Transit System’s (MRT) Houshanpia and Gongguan stations as part of its plan to set up 162 stops across the city by next year. 
Currently, there are 41 rental stops at stations along the MRT’s Bannan, Wenhu and Luzhou lines, 11 of which are in Xinyi District (信義). The most-used stops are at Taipei City Hall and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall MRT stations, as well as at National Taiwan Normal University, the department said.

There are still plenty of bugs in the system. Most notably, there are all these bikes and no practical space to safely ride.

Taiwan Cycling Tourism Coming Up Roses?


China Airlines, Tawan's flag carrier Airline, has stepped up to sponsor a float for the 2012 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California as part of the annual festivities surrounding the Rose Bowl. The float will be made to highlight Taiwan's cycling tourism; a major theme of the Ma administration's second term. 

The float draws on themes and images that have been frequently promulgated by the government in its bid to entrench tourism (especially cycling tourism) as a political and economic staple in Taiwan. 

The recurring themes of Taiwan as a cycling tourist's "paradise" have comprised much of the Tourism Bureau's propaganda over the last calendar year. 

Although I believe many of these claims are half-baked and not ready for sale, I do find it interesting in how well coordinated the government has been in targeting its audience and reinforcing a consistent message through disparate media streams. 

Although China Airlines is not directly owned by the ROC government, it is owned and managed by the China Aviation Development Foundation; a government owned aviation firm that falls outside of regular bureaucratic oversight. 

It seems touting tourism is about the only policy the Ma administration has been able to construct a coherent and constant message around despite its obvious political pitfalls as it undermines and replaces traditional patronage streams with risky and potentially untenable alternatives.

Decide for yourself. How does the pitch match the product?

Here is what they would like to sell: 

Cycling Through Paradise
Artistic Entertainment Services
Height: 35′
Width: 18′
Length: 55′
In celebration of Taiwan’s Cycling Festival, China Airline’s presents “Cycling Through Paradise”. The 2013 entry pays homage to the annual Taiwan Cycling Festival.
The goal behind the annual Taiwan Cycling Festival is to introduce the Taiwan cycling experience to people of Taiwan and to people overseas looking for new, healthy, and inviting travel destinations.Taiwan’s breathtaking landscape – oversized sea cliffs and densely forested mountains are best seen on two wheels. In recent years Taiwan has embraced the world of cycling with great enthusiasm and the creation of thousands of kilometers of cycling paths, including two round-the-island routes, and a host of other cycling friendly infrastructure projects. Some of the best cycling routes in the world pass through Taiwan’s beautiful scenery.
The deck of the float features swirling groupings of orchids, iris, roses and mums in brilliant colors creating the look of a crashing waterfall, magnificent palm trees and native architecture. Along for the ride are cyclists pedaling through the majestic landscape. China Airlines began its Rose Parade participation in 1987. This year’s entry will “wow” the crowd with its magnificent floral detail and cultural beauty!